Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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463
HISTORICAL NOTES
incidentally connected with it by Stenhouse, and it is necessary to produce the evidence for its insertion here. It is the original of three different ballads, and its anonymous publication in the Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 234, preceded the other two by four years. As may be seen in the facsimile of Law's MS., Burns marked it' Sir John Cope trode the North &c.—Mr. Burns's old words.' The MS. of the song is at present unknown, but it is certain that he contributed it to Johnson's Museum. I was puzzled to reconcile this fact with his note in Cromek's Reliques, 1808, 2J2, until I discovered from an examination of the Interleaved Museum that the first portion of the note ir5 Cromek was not written by Burns but by Robert Riddell thus: ' This satirical song was composed to commemorate General Cope's defeat at Preston Pans in 1745, when he marched against the Clans.' So far Riddell obviously did not know that Burns had anything to do with the verses; and the poet did not inform him in the studiously vague addition to the note which follows in his own handwriting: 'The air was the tune of an old song, of which I have heard some verses, but now only remember the title, which was Will you go to the coals in the morning ?' This forgotten so'ng, consisting of eight stanzas and a chorus very different from that in our text, was published as a foot-note in Ritson's Scotish Songs, 1794, ii. 84, beginning 'Coup sent a challenge frae Dnnbar,' the chorus ending with the title quoted by Burns. Ritson on the same page has printed a different song of nine stanzas without chorus, opening with the same line as the other, and he remarks that the version in the.Museum 'is a copy differing very much from both.' Stenhonse confused matters by asserting that Adam Skirving, the author of the song Tranent Muir, wrote also Johnie Cope of the Museum; but Ritson, who published his collection nearlv thirty years before Stenhouse's Illustrations were issued, and took infinite pains over his works, was ignorant of the author oijohnie Cope, and expressed a wish to know who wrote any of the three songs. On Stenhouse's unverified statement Skirving's name is repeated as the author to this day. Much of Johnie Cope is carelessly written in faulty rhyme, but the sarcastic verses and the rollicking melody have perpetuated the song; and the common-place knight Sir John Cope would long ere this have passed into oblivion but for the song. His circular march through the North of Scotland in 1745 and return voyage to Dunbar; his defeat at Gladsmuir, Preston Pans, or Tranent Muir are better known than the career of more distinguished men. Burns did not admire the air Johnie Cope, and his verses are in evidence as a reason why he did not acknowledge them except in the MS. List for the Museum. The tune is in Oswald's Companion, 1759, ix. 11; McLean's Scots Tunes, c. 1772, 23; Aird's Airs, 1783, ii. No. J2; and in Johnson's Museum as in the text.
No. 292. Loud blaw the frosty breezes. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 143, entitled the Young highland rover, signed 'R.' Tune, Morag. The MS. is in the British Museum and the song is in Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, 6y. On September 7, 1787, Burns and his companion, being in the neighbour­hood of Castle Gordon, the poet called on the Duke and Duchess, who received him with the greatest kindness and hospitality. He dined with the company at the Castle, and was pressed to remain, but he was obliged to refuse as he had left Nicol at Fochaber's Inn. The Duke sent a special messenger to invite Nicol to the Castle, but the irascible Schoolmaster had already exhausted his small stock of patience, and bluntly declined the invitation. Burns found him pacing in front of the Inn with a carriage and horses ready to start. The poet subsequently described himself ' as travelling with a blunderbuss at full cock,' and this time it went off. Writing afterwards to the Duke's librarian, he said: ' I shall certainly, among my legacies, leave my latest curse to that unlucky predicament which hurried—tore rde from Castle Gordon. May that rfbstinate son of Latin prose be curst to Scotch-mile periods, and damned to seven-leagued paragraphs; while Declension and Conjugation, Gender, Number,






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